Shannon shares story of being sixth great-grandson of President Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings

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Many of you may know me as a television anchor, but you may not know that I’m also the sixth great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings.

I’ve known about my heritage as early as I can remember, but when I was in second grade I proudly told the class that Thomas Jefferson is my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather. The teacher didn’t believe me.

I was devastated.

The next day my mom went to that school and corrected the teacher. She, and so many others, can learn all about my ancestry at Monticello, the home of the third president of the United States in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Today, I’m comforted that when my three children tell the story of their lineage they will be believed.

I helped co-author a book, “Jefferson’s Children: The Story Of One American Family” published by Random House. It was the brain child of my co-author and photojournalist Jane Feldman who took me on a journey around the world to document in-depth and conduct intimate interviews with four generations of presidential descendants through both Jefferson’s wife, Martha, and Sally Hemings.

Both sides of the Jefferson family came together at Monticello in 1999 for the first time since slavery.  And since then, the majority of us have gone on to accept and appreciate each other as one family.

I’m now an unofficial Jefferson-Hemings spokesperson and have become an advocate for functional families and fathers. I’ve even appeared in an Ancestory.com commercial!

My hope isif my Jefferson-Hemings family can reconcile after years of slavery, separation and several difference maybe our country can to.

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